Top Major Shockers

By John HawkinsJuly 19, 2010, 7:44 pm

The no-name with the long name didn’t just win – he won by seven, a margin no less startling than the identity of the champion himself. Most guys who come out of nowhere to swipe a major title do it on the final holes of the tournament, and in many cases, they capitalize on the mistakes of others to complete their improbable dream. One man’s career-defining victory is usually another man’s indigestible loss.

Not this time, though. Not even close. Louis Oosthuizen, the formerly anonymous South African who carries a ton of vowels and twice as much poise, dominated the 2010 British Open so convincingly that it seems preposterous to think he was invisible a week ago. Some first-time major champs look like they’re just getting started, others like we’ve seen everything they’ve got, and while it’s easy to get carried away in the moment, this guy looks nothing like the second coming (and going) of Michael Campbell.

There isn’t a tour pro alive who moves the club through the contact zone with more grace and less effort than Oosthuizen. His golf swing, like those of fellow countrymen Ernie Els and Retief Goosen, is a beautiful thing to watch – exceptional rhythm, perfect tempo, the type of balanced, flowing finish that belongs in an instruction video.

Oosthuizen’s life, however, has undergone major reconstruction in the last several months: a first child, a claret jug, and now, the burden of expectations. We’ll see how he handles it, but in becoming the fourth supersized surprise to win a British Open since 1999, he hardly qualifies as the most unlikely major champion of the Tiger Woods era. Misery loves company, but as this ranking of shockers might attest, so does success.

1. Ben Curtis (2003 British) – He gets the top spot for a couple of reasons. One, he was a winless PGA Tour rookie, 396th in the world ranking, when he traveled to England, without a caddie, no less, to compete in his first major championship. Two, Curtis prevailed with four of the game’s best players nipping at his heels. Thomas Bjorn should have won the tournament. Woods could have won the tournament. Vijay Singh and Davis Love III were right there, too, but when a golf course gets crazy, so does the bounce of the ball late Sunday afternoon.

2. Y.E. Yang (2009 PGA) – Woods had won 14 consecutive majors when leading after 54 holes, a streak Yang ended, but when you think about it, Tiger was going to lose one sooner or later. The fact that he got to 14 is mind-blowing in a game where the third-round leader wins about half the time. Yang had won the Honda Classic five months earlier, but that’s no attempt to downsize his landmark achievement. Woods’ on- and off-course troubles since help explain what happened last August at Hazeltine.

3. Todd Hamilton (2004 British) – A triumph very similar to Yang’s, as Hamilton had also won the Honda and basically had to knock off one superstar (Ernie Els) to claim his prize. It was an exciting final round, one that featured Phil Mickelson’s only foray into contention at a British, but the four-hole playoff between Hamilton and Els was decided on the Big Easy’s bogey at the par-3 17th. Els hasn’t been the same since. Come to think of it, neither has Hamilton.

4. Shaun Micheel (2003 PGA) – Some might rank this one higher because Micheel basically fell off the face of the competitive Earth immediately afterward, unlikely ever to return. It was a strange week on a very difficult course, reflected by a leaderboard full of guys you’d never suspect would become major champions. The Micheel-Chad Campbell duel down the stretch was fun to watch, however, and when the winner parked a 7-iron inches from the flag on the 18th, his 15 minutes of fame was already winding down.

5. Paul Lawrie (1999 British) – One glass slipper shattered on the 72nd hole, another discovered in the ensuing four-hole playoff. Jean Van de Velde’s unforgettable train wreck on Carnoustie’s 18th obviously turned Lawrie into the most serendipitous of Cinderellas, but this was a tournament all but ruined by a ridiculous course setup. Six over got you into the playoff, which included Justin Leonard, and though Lawrie was outstanding in overtime, it was the last we’ve seen of him.

6. Michael Campbell (2005 U.S. Open) – Another case of a peculiar champion on a golf course that had gotten out of control. Neither man in Sunday’s final pairing (Goosen, Jason Gore) broke 80, clearing the way for Campbell, who had contended at the 1995 British and collected a half-dozen or so notable victories worldwide. Woods was the only guy to apply any heat on the final nine, but a bogey on the 16th ended any chance he had. As former USGA setup man Tom Meeks proved that week, even a classic layout such as Pinehurst No. 2 can become a trampoline if you mess with it enough.

John Hawkins appears on Golf Central every Tuesday at 6 p.m. and 11 p.m. ET and on the Grey Goose 19th Hole every Wednesday at 7 p.m. ET.

7. Louis Oosthuizen (2010 British) – As spectacular as he looked at St Andrews, he still showed up with virtually nothing in terms of major-championship credentials. Despite a formidable list of guys within striking distance (Paul Casey, Lee Westwood, Henrik Stenson), nobody so much as threw a scare at the South African. To say the best player won this tournament, however, is a statement that cannot be argued.

8. Rich Beem (2002 PGA) – He arrived at Hazeltine hot, having won at Castle Pines the two weeks prior, and left on fire, surviving a torrid finishing kick from Woods, who had birdied the final three holes while playing two groups ahead. Like Hamilton and Michael Campbell, Beem’s major title looks more surprising now because he hasn’t won since. The likeable Beemer will always be remembered for the little jig he broke into after tapping in at the 18th to defeat Tiger by one. As victory dances go, that ranks a lot higher than eighth.

9. Trevor Immelman (2008 Masters) – We don’t get a lot of stunners at Augusta National because the field is smaller, but this one makes the bottom of my list with mixed feelings. Immelman remains an exceptional talent who was highly touted upon turning pro in 1999, but his career has failed to approach even modest expectations. He won the ’08 Masters without a fight, much like Oosthuizen did Sunday, which might have as much to do with the surprise factor as the guy who ends up hoisting the trophy. You can analyze this crazy game all you want but sometimes, things just don’t make a whole lot of sense.

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Arizona caps an improbable journey with a title

By Ryan LavnerMay 24, 2018, 3:49 am

STILLWATER, Okla. – Five hours before the final match at the NCAA Women’s Championship, Arizona coach Laura Ianello sat cross-legged on a couch in the Holiday Inn lobby and broke down four times in a half-hour interview.

It’s been that kind of exhausting season.

From poor play to stunning midseason defections to a stroke-play collapse, Ianello has felt uneasy for months. She has felt like she was losing control. Felt like her carefully crafted roster was coming apart.

So to even have a chance to win a NCAA title?

“I know what this team has gone through,” she said, beginning to tear up, “and you don’t get these opportunities all the time. So I want it for them. This could be so life-changing for so many of them.”

A moment that seemed impossible six months ago became reality Wednesday at Karsten Creek.

Arizona continued its magical run through the match-play bracket and knocked off top-ranked Alabama to capture its third NCAA title, with junior Haley Moore – who first rose to fame by making the cut at an LPGA major as a 16-year-old – rolling in a 4-footer to earn the clinching point in extra holes.

All throughout nationals Arizona was fueled by momentum and adrenaline, but this was no Cinderella squad. The Wildcats were ranked ninth in the country. They won twice this spring. They had four medalists. They were one of the longest-hitting teams in the country.

But even before a miracle end to NCAA stroke play, Arizona needed some help just to get here.

NCAA Women’s DI Championship: Team scoring

NCAA Women’s DI Championship: Individual scoring

On Christmas Day, one of the team’s best players, Krystal Quihuis, texted Ianello that she was turning pro. It may have been a gift to her parents, for their years of sacrifice, but it was a lump of coal in Ianello’s stocking.

“I was absolutely heartbroken,” she said. “It was devastating.”

Even more bad news arrived a few weeks later, when junior Gigi Stoll told Ianello that she was unhappy, homesick and wanted to return to Portland, Ore. Just like that, a promising season had gone off the rails.

Ianello offered her a full release, but Stoll looked around, found no other suitors and decided to remain with the team – as long as she signed a contract of expected behavior.

“It was the most exhausting two months of my life,” Ianello said. “We care so much about these freakin’ girls, and we’re like, Come on, this is just a small, little picture of your life, so you don’t realize what you’re possibly giving up. It’s so hard to see that sometimes.”

Stoll eventually bought in, but the rest of the team was blindsided by Quihuis’ decision.

“We became even more motivated to prove we were a great team,” said junior Bianca Pagdanganan.

It also helped that Yu-Sang Hou joined the squad in January. The morale immediately improved, not least because the players now could poke fun at Hou; on her fourth day on campus she nearly burned down the dorm when she forgot to add water to her mac-and-cheese.

Early on Ianello and assistant Derek Radley organized a team retreat at a hotel in Tucson. There the players created Oprah-inspired vision boards and completed exercises blindfolded and delivered 60-second speeches to break down barriers. At the end of the session, they created T-shirts that they donned all spring. They splashed “The Great Eight” on the front, put the state of Arizona and each player’s country of origin on the sleeves, and on the back printed their names and a slogan: If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.

“I can’t think of anything else that better embodies this team,” Radley said.

This spring, they rallied together and finished no worse than fourth in a tournament. Through three rounds of stroke play here at the NCAA Championship, they used their distance advantage and sat third in the standings. Then they shot 17 over par in the final round, tumbling outside the top-8 cut line.

They were down to their final chance on the 72nd hole, needing an eagle to tie, as Pagdanganan lined up her 30-footer. She dramatically drained the putt, then gathered her teammates on the range.

“This means we were meant to be in the top 8,” she said. Less than an hour later, they beat Baylor in the team playoff to earn the last match-play berth.

Ianello was so amped up from the frenetic finish that she slept only three hours on Monday night, but they continued to roll and knocked off top-seeded UCLA in the quarterfinals, beating a pair of Player of the Year contenders, Lilia Vu and Patty Tavatanakit, in the process. In the afternoon semifinals, they jumped all over Stanford and won easily.

It was a cute story, the last team into the match-play field reaching the final match, but a stiffer challenge awaited the Wildcats Wednesday.

Alabama was the top-ranked team in the country. The Tide were a whopping 110 under par for the season, boasting three first-team All-Americans who were so dominant in their first two matches that they trailed for only two of the 99 holes they played.

Ianello already seemed to be bracing for the result on the eve of the final match.

“Win or lose,” she said, “this has been a hell of a ride.”

But their wild ride continued Wednesday, as Hou won four holes in a row to start the back nine and defeat Alabama’s best player, Lauren Stephenson, who had the best single-season scoring average (69.5) in Division I history.

Then sophomore Sandra Nordaas – the main beneficiary after Quihuis left at the midway point of the season – held on for a 1-up victory over Angelica Moresco.

And so Arizona’s national-title hopes hinged on the success of its most mercurial player, Moore. In the anchor match against Lakareber Abe, Moore jumped out to a 2-up lead at the turn but lost the first three holes on the back nine.

By the time Radley sped back to help Moore, in the 12th fairway, she was frazzled.

“But seeing me,” Radley said, “I saw a sense of calm wash over her.”

Moore played solidly for the rest of the back nine and took a 1-up lead into the home hole. She didn’t flinch when Abe hit one of the shots of the entire championship – a smoked 3-wood to 12 feet to set up a two-putt birdie and force extras – and then gave herself 4 feet for the win on the first playoff hole. She sank the putt and within seconds was mobbed by her teammates.

In the giddy aftermath, Ianello could barely speak. She wandered around the green in a daze, looking for someone, anyone, to hug.

The most trying year of her career had somehow ended in a title.

“At some moments, it felt impossible,” she said. “But I underestimated these young women a little bit.”

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Pac-12 continues to dominate women's golf

By Golf Channel DigitalMay 24, 2018, 3:04 am

Arizona's national women's golf championship marked the fourth consecutive year in‌ which the women's Division I national title was won by a Pac-12 Conference team. All four championships were won by different schools (Stanford, 2015; Washington, 2016; Arizona State, 2017; Arizona, 2018). The Pac-12 is the only conference to win four straight golf championships (men or women) with four different schools.

Here are some other statistical notes from the just-concluded NCAA Div. I Women's Golf Championship:

• This is the second time that Arizona has won the national title the year after rival Arizona State won it. The last time was 1996.

• Arizona now has three women's golf national championships. The previous two came in 1996 and 2000.

• Arizona is only the sixth school to win three or more Div. I women's golf championships, joining Arizona State (8), Duke (6), San Jose State (3), UCLA (3) and USC (3).

• Arizona's Haley Moore, who earned the clinching point on the 19th hole of her match with Alabama's Lakareber Abe, was the only Arizona player to win all three of her matches this week.

• Alabama's Kristen Gillman and Cheyenne Knight also went 3-0. Gillman did not trail in any match.

• Since the match-play format was instituted in 2015, Arizona is the lowest seed (8) to claim the national title. The seeds claiming the national championship were Stanford (4) in 2015; Washington (4) in 2016; and Arizona State (3) in 2017.

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High school seniors win U.S. Amateur Four-Ball

By Associated PressMay 24, 2018, 1:44 am

TEQUESTA, Fla. - The 18-year-old Hammer, from Houston, is set to play at Texas next fall. Barber, from Stuart, Fla., also is 18. He's headed to LSU.

''Growing up watching U.S. Opens and U.S. Amateurs on TV, I just knew being a USGA champion is something that I desperately wanted,'' said Hammer, who qualified for a U.S. Open three years ago at 15. ''And to finally do it, it feels incredible. It feels as good, if not better, than I thought it would. And especially being able to do it with Garrett. It's really cool to share this moment.''

Hammer and Cole won the par-4 eighth with a birdie to take a 2-up lead. They took the par-4 10th with a par, won the par-5 13th with an eagle - Barber hit a 4-iron from 235 yards to 3 feet - and halved the next two holes to end the match.

''Cole didn't want me to hit 4-iron,'' Barber said. ''He didn't think I could get it there. I was like, 'I got it.' So I hit it hard, hit pretty much a perfect shot. It was a crazy shot.''

The 32-year-old Dull is from Winter Park, Fla., and the 42-year-old Brooke from Altamonte Springs, Fla.

''Cole Hammer is a special player,'' Brooke said. ''Obviously, he's going to Texas (and) I'm not saying he is Jordan Spieth, but there are certain things that he does.''

In the morning semifinals, Hammer and Barber beat Idaho high school teammates Carson Barry and Sam Tidd, 5 and 4, and Brooke and Dull topped former Seattle University teammates Kyle Cornett and Patrick Sato, 4 and 3.

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Watch: Pumped up Beef deadlifts 485 lbs.

By Grill Room TeamMay 24, 2018, 12:19 am

Andrew "Beef" Johnston has been playing some solid golf on the European Tour this season, and he is clearly pumped up for one of the biggest weeks of the year at the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth.

Judging from the video below, Beef will have no problems lifting the trophy on Sunday as he reportedly deadlifted 220 kg ... (Googles kilogram to pounds converter, enters numbers) ... that's 485 lbs!

@beefgolf with a new deadlift PB 220kg ! #youcantgowronggettingstrong

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